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The Figgles characters

Audience with a star: Kelly Calveley as Cinderella at a recent Masterworks' event with Solana Smith (right) and dolly.

The day that four-year-old Charlie Calveley found the Easter Bunny's feet in the bathtub was the day he had to be told the truth.

He had to be told that his mother, Kelly, was the Easter Bunny, and also Elmo, and Cinderella and a whole bunch of other characters.

It was a long time before little Charlie would go back in the bathroom by himself, but he has since come to terms with his mother's occupation as Figgles' mascot. Figgles, started last April, bills itself as Bermuda's only mascot hiring service.

"Figgles started Easter of this year with our Easter Bunny," said Mrs. Calveley. "I had two young kids, Charlie and Kayla, 20 months, and I wanted something different for their birthday parties. I noticed there was a gap in the market."

So she set up Figgles to fill the gap. Now she orders her costumes, to her specifications, from all over the world including China, Peru and the United States. Figgles now have 40 mascots to brighten a child's birthday party or corporate event. Think of a popular children's television character, and they probably have it.

"We try to keep up with the market and what is going on," said Mrs. Calveley. "Last year we ordered Buzz Lightyear, but it arrived after the movie."

Most of the characters just pat the children on the head, but Cinderella, Ariel and Princess Belle actually talk with the children.

"It is fun and I enjoy it," said Mrs. Calveley. "The younger ones tend to be a little nervous at first. Once they see that Elmo is a friendly mascot they warm up to him quite quickly.

"For Cinderella, the children always ask me where Prince Charming is. They ask me how did I get there. I tell them the horses are back at the castle eating. We read the story of Cinderella at the tea parties. When I have to go, I remind them that Cinderella turns into a pumpkin if she is not back on time.

"With Elmo they ask where the other characters are. I tell them they are back at Sesame Street. Elmo is by far the most popular character."

Cinderella recently made an appearance at the Masterworks Foundation princess art party. Other Figgles characters will be appearing at a WindReach festival at the end of October.

"Since I started in April, I have had about three weekends off," said Mrs. Calveley. "I do it with my niece, Jamie Wotton. My husband Tim, often stays home with the children while I work. Sometimes he also fills the costumes for me.

"At a typical party the mascot arrives at the desired time. We mix and mingle with the kids. The birthday child will get a large Figgles balloon, a birthday card from the mascot and a lollipop. For corporate events, a company might hire two mascots to come out over a two- to three-hour period. The faces of the kids are priceless. We are bringing their childhood fantasies to life.

"They love it. That is what I most enjoy about it is seeing their faces. We had a Dora party for a three-year-old. She was bawling her eyes out when Dora had to leave. I felt bad about leaving, but I had another party to go to."

Although the media was filled with reports of pint-size Barney the Dinosaur bashers a few years ago, Mrs. Calveley said she has not had any problems, so far.

"Some of the boys tend to be a little rough, but we tell the parents to watch the mascots because they are expensive to bring in," she said. "We have done parties [for children] from one years old up to maybe six, seven or eight years old. Then we do the corporate events."

If Miss Calveley seems completely at home in Cinderella's high heels and fancy dress, it might be because in 1997, she won Miss Congeniality in the Miss Bermuda Contest and was second runner-up overall.

"I think there is a connection," she said. "I am such a people person. I love dealing with people and I love kids. Although I love kids, I never could have been a teacher. That is too structured, and I just like having fun with kids."

In addition to her Figgles work, Mrs. Calveley is also a relationship manager associate at HSBC Bermuda.

For more information visit www.figglesbermuda.com.